Comedy Icons Push For Police Reform In A New Live Show

by Marissa Dubecky

It’s no secret that racial tension, largely in relation to discriminatory policing practices, is one of the most talked about social justice issues in the U.S. right now—the unfortunate truth is that violence targeting minorities is not a thing of the past. But the good news is that activists are fighting hard for change, and some of them are our favorite comedians: among others, Aparna Nancherla and Abbi Crutchfield will be telling jokes this Thursday night at Shea Stadium in Brookyln, NY to raise money for organizations campaigning for police reform in New York. We had the honor of speaking with night’s host (and one of Upright Citizen Brigade’s finest improvisers) Keisha Zollar about the inspiration behind the Comedic Reform event.

Why is reforming discriminatory police practices so important?

People are literally dying from outdated police practices, and most of them are minorities. The fact that any one person has already been injured or lost their life because of dangerous police practices is enough for me to care. Crying families, lost dreams, mounting tensions between communities of color and the police…there is a powder keg that’s being fueled and could lead to larger explosions. We are in the midst of so many civil rights issues, and as much as there has been change, there has also been stagnation.  

Do you feel a personal connection to the issue?

Of course. Members of my own family have been targets of discriminatory police practices.  Seeing people I love suffer, reading about stories in the news, and watching videos of inexcusable police practices has deeply impacted how I interact with the police. Seeing a police officer does not make me feel safe: it puts me on guard even though I’ve done nothing wrong.

How and why do you think humor and comedy can inspire social change?

Comedy has the power to say things to society in new ways. It’s amazing how jokes can linger in the minds of an audience. When you connect that to social justice there is potential power. Laughter plus thoughts can inspire more progressive thoughts, deeper empathy, and new ways of viewing that same old shit.

What are you most looking forward to about the night?

The comedians! The audience! The microcosm of a temporary community around social justice, police reform and laughter in an intimate theater. When we do shows it’s such a nice fleeting community to never be repeated again, and I love why we are creating this community February 19th.

The show starts at 7 pm and is $7 in advance, $10 at the door.

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